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A new school year; are you slightly nervous about being on your own? Are you eager to implement the knowledge you’ve acquired and impress upon your students their ability to impact the world? A new teacher can always use more resources to help make their first year amazing but they can also use some discounts. There is much to think about and consider when beginning your first year of teaching in a classroom of your own. From the layout of chairs and desks to the colors and themes of your classroom every part of your environment plays a role in education. We’ve put together some information to help you achieve the learning environment your students deserve all while helping you save a few dollars through discounts and deals.
When you walk into your classroom for the first time, it may be a bit musty and dusty. Since it’s always best to work with a clean slate, get in there and scrub it down. Buy cleaning supplies and more from stores like Target ($5 off $50) and Lowe’s (no sales tax) and score some cleaning supplies to provide a fresh start. Jenna, a 2nd year teacher in Plano, TX remembered the first time she stepped into her new-to-her 4th grade classroom, “Our school is a bit older and the summer heat had done a doozy on an old potato science project left behind. I never thought I’d be getting out some Lysol and gloves on my first day.”
Classroom Layout Ideas
Now it’s starting to get fun. Thinking about how you and your students will move around the classroom and interact with not just each other but their environment allows the creative juices to get going. Will you have semi-circles of chairs where students can focus on their classmates and you the instructor? What types of learning do you hope to foster in this micro-environment you are creating? When designing a space it helps to visualize, we like this tool from Scholastic and this one from The Library Store. Beware: they both work with Adobe Flash so try opening them in FireFox or Safari over Chrome.
Maybe you want to create a cozy place for your students to grab a book and read instead of distracting their classmates. Try utilizing discounts from Hobby Lobby or Michael’s (15% discount) to help with find the perfect rug and pillows. Or maybe you want to provide a classroom library to store those books; The Container Store encourages teachers to organize their classrooms with a 10% discount as part of their educator program. Check out this Pinterest board we created for unique and creative ideas to help you develop a classroom layout you and your students will love.
Be sure to check out Craigslist as well use search terms like “teacher”, “teacher supplies”, “classroom” or similar terms. You would be surprised to see how many home-school educators and others are selling their supplies and they might even give them to you once they learn you’re a first year teacher.
Decorating Your Classroom
When creating a positive learning environment you cannot ignore even the smallest details. Everything in your classroom is an opportunity to encourage or motivate your kids. Long gone are the motivation posters and cheesy cat posters we grew up with, instead replaced by subtle images of encouragement and inspiration. Pinterest can be a huge source of inspiration for everything from color palettes to thoughtful imagery but we want to focus on where you can save money while making the walls sing.
If your district allows, you might explore wall colors that encourage your students simply through color science. Home Depot offers no sales tax for teachers with exempt paperwork. Try talking with your local Sherwin Williams as some teachers have received discounts of up to 50% off. Once your walls are perfectly toned, look into sites like Overstock.com with a free Club O Membership (free shipping and 5% back on every order) for teacher discounts on posters and artwork for your walls. Or maybe you’ve designed your own posters for print, head on over to your nearest FedEx Office for 15% off almost all products and services. FoamCorePrint.com offers really cool floor stickers and wall-art for teachers using discount code TEACH10.
Unique Teacher Discounts
Sometimes the best way to engage with your class is through a classroom pet. Now this can vary wildly with school administrations but when I was in Mrs. Harrelson’s 4th grade class we had pet bees in the classroom with a clear bee hive (there was a bit of a funky smell but we grew proud of it, we were the cool classroom 😊). And in 8th grade, Mr. Granderson was the coolest science teacher with his 80lb Boa Constrictor. Now maybe that scares you a bit but what about a pet fish or hermit crab? Maybe a chinchilla? PetsintheClassroom.com offers grants for teachers to help design a unique experience that your students are sure to remember.
Starting you teaching career brings a lot of exciting and sometimes nerve-racking challenges. Don’t let setup up your classroom be one of the things to fret about. Be sure to read more of our New Teachers (link to content) posts to discover more tips and tricks about starting your new career. The internet is an amazing resource for first-year teachers so leave a comment with your favorite